APEX — In the future, greenways could lead to town hall, downtown and the library. Teens could have a place for skateboarding, and kids could show off their athletic skills at a massive sports complex.
That’s the future envisioned in the Apex Parks, Recreation, Greenways and Open Space Master Plan that the Apex Town Council adopted Tuesday. It’s the first update to the plan since 2001.
Council members and town staff will use the seven-year plan to guide future recreation spending. At this time, no cost estimates have been assigned to each project.
Connecting the town’s most popular destinations and greenways ranked first in the town’s online survey, to which more than 1,400 people responded. Activities for teens and senior citizens were a close second.
As more families have moved to Apex over the past decade, it’s not surprising that more services are needed, said Councilman Scott Lassiter, an outspoken advocate for revising the parks master plan.
“It will frame our discussion and give us definite priorities,” he said. “We’ve got our work cut out for us.”
About 36 percent of survey respondents said they don’t bike or walk to a park or greenway, but about 86 percent said they would like to do that. More than 700 people said the town should add bicycle lanes, and 655 said the town should build parks closer to their homes to encourage bicycling and walking.
As a result, the town will look to add three connections from the American Tobacco Trail – one from Apex Jaycee Park to downtown; a second from Kelly Road Park to the Apex Nature Park; and a third from the Apex Nature Park to the trail. The town will also look at a Middle Creek Greenway connection to make crossing safer at future development around N.C. 540. It is also partnering with Cary to build the White Oak Greenway, which will link the two towns.
The town plans to promote the greenways with wayfinding signs and online and printed maps. It will also install safe crossings and complete a bicycle and pedestrian master plan.
Things for teens
Teenagers got a lot of attention in the survey. About 59 percent of respondents said it was “very important” to have programming for kids ages 13 to 17.
Greg Coley, who chairs the town’s parks advisory commission, isn’t surprised. He has two daughters, 11 and 13, and his family usually heads to Cary’s Fred G. Bond Metro Park to play in the open area. Apex’s plan includes more fields for open plan. The town plans to include skating plazas in future parks, along with climbing structures and ziplining and ropes courses. The Apex Nature Park, expected to open in early 2014, will have a disc golf course, which should be popular with teens, Coley said.
“Teens really need a place to hang out,” he said.
The future 60- to 200-acre athletic complex will offer four to five baseball fields; two basketball courts; a batting cage; three tennis courts; one to two volleyball courts; and three to four multi-purpose fields. The town is also seeking indoor space for teen and senior activities.
Over the next few years, the town expects to host more events at the Town Hall complex. This year the first free series of concerts attracted about 400 people each time, said John Brown, Apex parks and recreation director.